Asking questions in a job interview signals many positive things to a potential employer: that you’re intelligent, that you really are interested in this job, that you are motivated, and that you think critically. And, asking questions gives you information that helps you deliver better answers yourself. It’s also a good idea to ask questions for the simple reason that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Plenty of people have made mistakes in taking a job that turned out to be a bad decision. Always be ready with questions to ask.
What questions should you be asking in your job interviews?
“Why is this job available?”
You want to know what happened to the previous occupant. Were they promoted? Were they fired? Finding out what happened to them and why can tell you a lot about how you might fare in the role.
“What qualities would an ideal person for this job have?”
It’s not scary to ask about their wish list for a perfect candidate. They already have this list in their minds, and it isn’t always in the job description. When you know what’s on that list, too, you can begin to point out the qualities that you have that line up with their list. In the end, you will deliver better, more targeted interview answers than you could without knowing the answer to this question.
“What are the biggest challenges of the job?”
This answer will tell you what’s most important to this hiring manager (your future boss) and give you big clues about what you need to mention in subsequent answers about the job. It may also tell you what issues you’re letting yourself in for if you take the job.
“What do you like or dislike about working for this company?”
You can read for hours about a company online, but there’s nothing like speaking to someone who actually works there. They may tell you something you didn’t know that makes the job either more attractive or less, and their answer may also tell you if you’re going to be a good cultural fit for this company.
“Based on our conversation, are you confident that I’m someone who can meet the challenges of this job?”
With this question, you are asking if you’ve done what you needed to do in the interview: convince them you are a great fit for the job. If they say “Yes,” you can go home and rest easy, because you know that they are telling everyone they want to hire you. If they say “No,” then you know you have a little more work to do before you go. (If you leave them with doubts, you almost certainly won’t get the job.) Find out what their objection is, and maybe you can overcome it and save your job offer.
*Remember: While it’s always a good idea to ask questions in an interview, be sure to never, ever ask about salary, health insurance, vacations, flextime, or any other benefit—it only makes them feel negatively about you and your motivations for wanting the job. It also takes away from your time to sell yourself for the job so that they do make you an offer. After you get the offer is when you begin negotiating compensation.
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This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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